British Lion egg producers have criticised the Food Standards Agency (FSA) for failing to give clear advice to caterers about using safe eggs.
This follows recent outbreaks of salmonella poisoning cases, with the Health Protection Agency seeing a dramatic increase in cases since mid-August 2009 of a particular type of salmonella enteritidis not seen in British flocks.
A total of 443 cases were reported to the HPA this year, compared with 137 cases in 2008. Fourteen clusters of cases in England and Wales are currently being investigated to determine if there is a common source of infection. Although there is no conclusive evidence yet, the FSA believes the clusters may be linked to eggs sourced from outside the UK.
Investigations are ongoing into a possible link to eggs sourced from an approved supplier in Spain, and the UK and Spanish authorities are working in close cooperation to investigate this.
In response, British Lion eggs has asked the FSA to urgently review its advice to caterers to highlight the higher safety profile of eggs from flocks vaccinated against salmonella.
More than 85% of UK-produced eggs are produced under the British Lion scheme, which requires vaccination of hens against salmonella along with a range of other food safety measures.
“All major UK retailers specify British Lion eggs and we believe it is time that caterers took similar responsibility for buying eggs with an impeccable safety profile,” said Andrew Parker, chairman of the British Egg Industry Council.
“Several outbreaks of salmonella have taken place in England since August involving a strain of salmonella, which has not been found in egg-laying flocks in Great Britain.”